When Rima Fakih, 30, was crowned Miss USA in 2010, it was generally believed she was the first Muslim woman to ever win the title.
Shortly after winning, Fakih acknowledged her Muslim faith stating:
“I’d like to say I’m American first, and I am an Arab-American, I am Lebanese-American, and I am Muslim-American.”
She was born in Lebanon and raised in a Shia Muslim family, that admittedly had been luke-warm to their Muslim faith and would often observe both Muslim and Christian holidays.
The family immigrated to New York in 1993 and continued to observe both Muslim and Christian holidays including even attending church on Easter.
But in 2003, her family moved to Dearborn, Michigan and became involved with the large Islamic community in that city.
When Fakih started attending the University of Michigan, her father urged her to reconnect with her Muslim roots through the Islamic group at the University. It was here that she began to learn of her Muslim faith including Ramadan — that involves a month of fasting and prayer in the fall, according to the Muslim calendar, to commemorate Mohammad receiving his first revelation of the Qur’an.
It was shortly after this that Fakih won the Miss Michigan title in 2009 and went on to represent Michigan at the Miss USA competition the next year. Since winning the title she has been involved in acting, modelling and participated in Dancing with the Stars.
In 2011, an organization called Arabian Business nominated Fakih as one of the 100 Most Powerful Arab Women.
However, Alawaba Entertainment is now reporting that Fakih recently converted to Christianity and on March 30, she tweeted a Bible verse:
She also announced she would be marrying a Lebanese man — Wassim Salibi — a Maronite Christian music producer. The couple will be returning to Lebanon for the wedding on May 15, 2016.
Her decision to become a Christian has infuriated a number of Muslims. Albawaba reports:
“Meanwhile, she still has her cross to bear. A large majority of Muslim social media users were infuriated by Rima’s decision to follow Jesus, and assured her that this will ‘send her straight to Hell.'”
But many responded positively to her tweets, including some former Muslims who had also become Christians.
Maronite Christianity originated in Lebanon in 1943 shortly after it became a country. Though it has its own Patriarch that leads the group, it is in “full communion” with the Roman Catholic Church.
There are about three-million Maronites world wide and they currently make up 25% of the Lebanese population.